I’ve mentioned once or twice the old What If paperback I had when I was a kid. It was sort of the inspiration for me writing this column and it’s where I read a lot of my favourite What If comics originally. This week’s issue “What If the Avengers Became Pawns of Korvac” was always a favorite of mine. Not because of the Avengers. The line-up in this issue is… not great. The big players are Thor, Hercules, Vision and Wonder Man. It would take me years and some really good comics to make me realize how great Thor and Hercules were. I still hate Wonder Man though. No, the thing with What If 32 is… It gets… big. Like, ridiculously big. It actually kind of blew my young mind away with how fucking big it got by the end. This one sort of made me realize “Oh… we can do ANYTHING.”
So let’s start with a little backstory. Korvac was a guy from the year 3000, hometime of the Guardians of the Galaxy. No, no. The original Guardians of the Galaxy. The crappy ones. Korvac was a computer technician employed by the ridiculously sounding Badoon. And by employed, I mean enslaved. Like, he tried to take a nap at work one day so they cut off his legs and attached him to a flying computer.
This horrible betrayal of trust drove Korvac insane so he fought the crappy Guardians of the Galaxy and then went back in time to the twentieth century.
Upon arrival, Korvac performed a little B&E on Galactus’ homebase and sucked all the energy out of his computer. Said energy had the added benefits of giving Korvac near godlike powers and also giving him back his legs.Korvac then travelled to Earth where he bought a really nice house, a pair of really short shorts and started planning his revenge. Or possibly his retirement. The text is unclear.
Meanwhile in space (a sentence I never, ever get tired of writing.), Korvac is watched by giant cosmic space guy, the Collector. The Collector suspects Korvac’s swank retirement might not be all it appears to be and sends his daughter Carina to spy on Korvac. Which is a great plan until she falls in love with him.
Meanwhile, meanwhile, the crappy Guardians of the Galaxy have followed Korvac to the present where they team-up with the Avengers. The Collector notices all this and brings the two teams to his own base where he can help them… I guess with his collection stuff? I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter because Korvac vaporizes him. The Avengers attack and Korvac murders almost all of them. As he’s being attacked by Thor, Starhawk, Iron Man and Vision, Korvac glances over at Carina for help and sees a fleeting look of doubt on her face. So he gives up, kills himself and resurrects the Avengers. And then Carina kills herself too. Well, that was a tidy ending.
But, he said FINALLY getting to the actual point of this column, what if instead of doubt, Korvac saw a look of love and faith?
Korvac redoubles his efforts (which may not actually be a word and just something I saw in Star Wars.) and kills the remaining four Avengers. He then passes the fuck out.
In Asgard, Thor’s dad Odin receives news from his magic crows that Thor is dead. Nearly ripping off his chainmail eyepatch in fury, Odin marches the armies of Asgard on Earth.
Unfortunately, Korvac’s used his diminishing god powers to disconnect Earth from all other dimensions and realities. Which raises the question of how our Uatu is observing any of this but whatever. Korvac also disconnects this particular moment from time, locking the era off from time travellers, ensuring no interference from Immortus, Kang or Rip Hunter (Wait, shit, he’s DC.) Finally he banishes Doctor Strange, Phoenix and the Silver Surfer to… somewhere? Nobody ever says where. I guess maybe a different story? I don’t know. Anyway, they’re gone.
All of that done, Korvac starts working on his plan. It’s all about order. Korvac’s sick of crap he can’t control like free will and people’s minds so he begins banishing chaos from the universe. He resurrects the Avengers, sending some of them (including… ugh, Wonder Man again) to the moon to kill the Watcher. Oh god, not the Watcher! Who will alternate universe Matt use for a logo? I’ll have to steal another host character from… like, House of Mystery or something. (Wait, shit, that’s DC too. What is wrong with me this week?)
The Avengers arrive in the blue area of the moon (If you’ve forgotten, that’s the part of the moon that has oxygen. Which is good because people keep beaming to the moon in Marvel comics and then remarking that they don’t have anything to breathe when they get there. Nobody does any fucking planning in comic books.) where they first gaze up the Watcher’s mighty skirt and then attack him. Unfortunately for them, the Watcher is a pacifist and escapes.
Arriving on his home planet of Watchor 1, Uatu summons all of the universe’s other Watchers for a pow-wow.
“Look,” he says. “I know we’re FORBIDDEN TO INTERFERE with all the planets we watch, but this Korvac guy? He could be a problem. Like… if he destroy Earth, that would be kind of a bad thing.”
The other Watchers sigh.
“Uatu, this is like… the eighteenth time you’ve acted to help out Earth. Why don’t you just fucking marry it if you’re so in love with it. Let’s go, guys. We have people on alien planets to watch having sex.”
And they bail.
Well, since that didn’t work, Uatu calls a second meeting, this time with all the big cosmic guys in the galaxy. These include Galactus, the Gardener: sower of seeds and master of the universe’s vegetation, the Shaper of Worlds, a big white Skrull attached to a box, the Living Tribunal: a gold guy with three faces and no neck, the Stranger, whom the text describes as an “enigmatic experimenter and provocateur” and I describe as an old white dude with amazing facial hair, the Inbetweener whose name hides the word “Weiner” within it, the Grandmaster who I thought was the Beyonder but isn’t and Lord Chaos and Master Order, two floating heads that represent… chaos. And order. Respectively.
So the big cosmic guys all agree to team-up and defeat Korvac in the traditional manner. Attacking him one at a time. Galactus and the Gardener (Good god, I cannot think of a less threatening name then the Gardener.) head for Earth in Galactus’ spaceship but they’re intercepted by the Avengers who run around shooting them and biting at their ankles. Starhawk takes control of Galactus’ ship and crashes it into Mars.
Back on Earth, Korvac is approached by the Gamesmaster and the Shaper of Worlds. Neither of them is interested in Uatu’s cosmic guy team. Gamesmaster challenges Korvac to a big summer event but Korvac hates those as much as I do (Avengers/X-Men: Axis! On sale now!) and vaporizes Gamesmaster. The Shaper he lets stick around. Turns out Shaper knows about Korvac’s plans to remold the universe and just wants to help out, traitorous dickhole that he is.
Back on Mars, Galactus and the Gardener have the Avengers on the ropes. Galactus throws Hercules into space, killing him almost instantly and then the Gardener murders the Vision with… a garden.
Realizing that his Avengers aren’t doing so hot, Korvac resurrected Captain America and sends him to Korvac’s favorite shopping mall, Galactus’ ship. Cap tosses the place and finds the Ultimate Nullifier, knowing the threat of this weapon has defeated Galactus before.
“Oh, come on.” says Galactus. “You guys always whip out the Ultimate Nullifier when I show up and none of you have ever actually had the balls to pull the trigger. We all know that whoever uses the Nullifer also gets killed and you would ne-”
These are really embarrassing last words for Galactus as Cap presses the button and vaporizes them both. Not looking so hot now, are you, Galactus? And then Korvac kills the Gardener from Earth because the Gardener is terrible.
Back at Big Cosmic Dudes HQ, the Inbetweener and the Stranger have a new plan. They’ll kidnap Carina and force Korvac to back off. But first they need some sort of distraction… Hmm… What’s a big enough threat to distract Korvac? I know! Let’s throw the FUCKING MOON AT HIM.
Sure enough, the Stranger pulls the moon out of orbit and chucks it at Korvac’s lovely California home. Korvac catches it because seriously, guys? The moon? Are you even trying? while the Inbetweener bombs out with Carina. Korvac wins the moon tug of war, destroying it completely. Then he kills the Stranger too because fuck that moon tossing asshole.
The Inbetweener takes Carina back to his weird Steve Ditko realm only to discover she’s actually the Shaper of Worlds in disguise. It’s always tough when you take the hot bikini girl back to your place only to discover she’s actually a giant albino skrull in a box. Adding injury to insult, Korvac then kills the Inbetweener by betweening him. No, I have no idea what this means.
Out of options, the Living Tribunal plays his last card and forces the sun to GO FUCKING NOVA, DISINTEGRATING THE ENTIRE FUCKING SOLAR SYSTEM. Unfortunately, Korvac surrounds Earth in an energy field protecting it.
“Whelp.” says the Tribunal, fetching his hat. “That was my big play. Good luck with your doomed universe. Let me know how that all turns out. If anybody needs me, I’ll be literally anywhere else.” Then he bails.
At this point, a wormhole opens where Earth’s solar system used to be and warships from EVERY SENTIENT RACE IN THE UNIVERSE arrive to stop Korvac.
“Shit.” He says. “I’m more powerful than any living thing in the universe. I’m not more powerful than EVERYTHING in the universe.” Needing all the power he can get, he kills the Avengers, the Shaper, and every living thing on the planet (including Spider-Man!). The combined warships arrive at Earth to find the enormous Korvac perched on top of Earth, whistling casually and tossing the Ultimate Nullifer to himself.
“s’up?” he says.
At this point, Uatu appears to beg Korvac one last time not to destroy the universe. Unfortunately for literally everything, Korvac isn’t interested and pushes the fire button, destroying himself and all of creation in one brief horrifying moment.
Next week: Something about Dazzler!